July 5, 2009:
Unrest continues to grow in Papua (the western half of New Guinea island). The reasons for the violence stem from the fact that, in the 1960s, Indonesia took control of the former Dutch colony (the western half of New Guinea) by force, despite the fact that the Dutch departed, leaving behind an elected Papuan government. Since then, the Indonesian government has used a combination of force, bribery and terror to maintain control. The Papuans are poor, and about 20 percent are illiterate. The Papuans are Melanesians and non-Moslem (Christian or Pagan), while most Indonesians are Malay and Moslem. The two groups do not get along. The Indonesians have more guns, and use them freely to push the Papuans around. For example, there are several large mining (copper and gold) operations in Papua. These are guarded by the police and army. The local Papuans receive little benefit from these mines, while the Indonesian government receives large tax revenues from the mine operators.
In East Timor, the last camp for internal refugees is closing. Several of these camps were set up three years ago because of fighting between political gangs in the capital. The UN police force has also begun turning over policing responsibility to newly trained East Timor police, one district at a time. Meanwhile, foreign journalists have revealed extensive corruption in the government, where senior officials give contracts to companies controlled by close family members. This is illegal under East Timor law. The government responded by establishing an anti-corruption commission, which will try to make the problem, or all the unpleasant media attention, go away.
Indonesia anti-corruption efforts, headed by a five year old anti-corruption commission (KPK), has scared many dirty politicians, and they are trying to block a law, that must be passed by December 19, to keep the KPK in business as a separate and independent court of law. While the KPK has a hundred percent conviction rate, similar corruption cases in the regular courts either fail, or are later overturned, about half the time.
Islamic radicals are running into more resistance from the majority of Indonesian Moslems who want nothing to do with radicalism and terrorism. This has led to radical clerics being blocked from entering the larger mosques in the country (where they preach against democracy and those who oppose a strict interpretation of Islam). The radicals have been unable to use force, because they are so greatly outnumbered. This widespread rejection of Islamic radicalism is the main reason why so many Islamic terrorists have fled the country. Those that remain keep quiet and hidden, because there are so many Indonesians who would tip off the police. Islamic conservatives, and their political parties, are still a power (although a minority one), but their radical fringe has lost its political clout, and even the Islamic conservatives are, for the most part, opposed to Islamic terrorism.
The Indonesian air force suffered two helicopter crashes in one week last month. The Defense Minister said the cause was a shortage of money for aircraft maintenance. Less than half the money needed for aircraft maintenance is provided, which leads to many aircraft being classified as unavailable for service, and the remainder barely getting enough maintenance to keep them in the air.
June 30, 2009: In Papua, a policeman was wounded by an arrow, and a tribesman killed, when the police got caught in a war between two tribes.
June 7, 2009: In Papua, three separatist tribesmen were killed, and several police wounded, as a remote air strip was recaptured by the police. The tribesmen, armed with bows and arrows, had occupied the air strip for two weeks, to protest against the government.